So you’re expecting your first grandchild and can’t wait to step into your new role as parents’ helper and doting caretaker. But, let’s be honest, it’s been a while since you were responsible for any infant care, which is why you’re probably wondering what exactly you need in order to do the job on your own turf from time to time. Good news: We polled real-life parents, so you don’t have to. From sleep set-ups to bottle feeding supplies and everything in between, purchase these items before you go about your babysitting duties and the new parents in your life will be super grateful.
I’m About to Have My First Grandchild—What Gear Do I Actually Need to Invest In So She Can Visit?
What Do Grandparents Need to Take Care of Grandkids?
Truth be told, the type and number of products that you’ll need to watch the grandchildren will depend on multiple factors, including how often they will be at your house (will they be coming over every day? Once a month? Just for special occasions?), their age (a newborn has very different needs to a toddler) and parental preferences. What do we mean by parental preferences? While you may swear by cloth diapers, your grandchild’s parents may prefer to use a specific brand of disposable ones. And as tempting as it may be to let the parents know why your way is best, remember that the child’s parents ultimately have the final say. One more thing: While this list covers all the basics, your best bet is to check in with the parents about what gear you should purchase in order to make their lives easier before their visit.
1. Graco Pack and Play On the Go Playard with Bassinet Insert
- Why We Love It: portable, compact and foldable design, multi-purpose
You’ll need somewhere to plunk that nugget down while you’re fixing a bottle and, sure, you can always invest in a fancy swing—but you will also need somewhere to lay baby down for naps and perhaps even overnight sleep. Why not cover all the bases with a playard? This nifty number provides a safe enclosed space for the baby to catch some zzz’s or otherwise chill, and even boasts a bassinet attachment—you know, to save your back from bending down all that way (and possibly waking the baby in the process). This versatile item is also portable (it has wheels) and designed to fold into a compact size for easy storage when your grandchild’s stay is over.
2. Modera Double-sided Memory Foam Pack and Play Mattress
- Why We Love It: reversible design, waterproof cover
The playard is ideal for both sleep and any ol’ time you need your hands free; however, when it comes to the former, a good pack n’ play mattress insert can be the difference between a cranky, overtired baby and a blissfully well-rested one. The truth is that a pack ‘n play doesn’t provide a ton of support to sleeping babes…but this super plush memory foam mattress most certainly will. Best of all, this guy features two sides—a firmer one for newborns and a softer one for older babies—so you can count on safe and comfortable sleep well into the toddler years, and a waterproof cover too since even the most absorbent diapers have been known to spring a leak. (Just be sure to check that the mattress is compatible with your playard before purchasing.)
3. Graco Grows4Me 4-in-1 Car Seat
- Why We Love It: transitions from newborn to toddler, easy to install, multiple positions
Any new parent will tell you that there’s nothing worse than lugging around a car seat. (The baby might still be under 10 pounds but those things are seriously heavy!) And don’t even get us started on the headache of installing ‘em. Fortunately, you can spare everyone the heavy lifting and the hassle by investing in a car seat of your own. We’re particularly fond of this one, since its 4-in-1 design means it will grow with the baby and can be safely used in both rear and forward-facing positions. It also gets rave reviews for comfort and ease of installation—high praise for a car seat—so all you have to do is set it (securely and according to the instruction manual) and forget it.
4. EON 4-in-1 High Chair
- Why We Love It: space-saving design, grows with baby, easy to clean
OK, your grandchild can’t even support his own head yet, let alone sit in a high chair and eat a meal. That said, there’s only six months between now and solid food, and the time really flies. The EON high chair from Skip Hop is an award-winning beaut that boasts easy-to-clean surfaces, a sleek space-saving design and an adjustable frame with three different positions to accommodate babies, booster seat-ready toddlers and full-blown big kids. Bottom line: You might as well scoop one up while you’re doing the rest of the shopping, because you’ll need it soon enough and it’s made to last.
5. FIZZEEY Foldable Portable Changing Station
- Why We Love It: compact, foldable, easy to clean, good storage space
Even a short stay can involve quite a bit of diaper changing (hello, blowout diaper), which is why parents suggest that grandparents invest in some type of changing station. Portable, compact stations are especially practical since they can be easily tucked away when not in use and don’t take up too much space when they’re needed either. This particular model features plenty of storage, a back-friendly height, a handy safety strap so babies don’t fall from said height, and a hypoallergenic surface that’s gentle on baby’s skin and a breeze to wipe clean.
6. Dr. Brown’s Options+ Feeding Bottles Gift Set
- Why We Love It: vented nipples pace flow and minimize gas, bottles are dishwasher safe
Bottles are bulky and a pain to tote back and forth. Do all parties a favor and have your own stash of quality bottles that you can use for all feedings when the baby is in your care. This bottle-feeding gift set has all the bells and whistles—including bottles, bottle caps, cleaning brushes and two different types of silicone nipples that are vented to pace the flow and reduce the amount of air the baby swallows. The icing on the cake? The whole kit and kaboodle is dishwasher safe.
7. Baby Brezza Formula Pro
- Why We Love It: time-saver, customizable settings, digital display
If you’re looking after a formula-fed baby, the Baby Brezza can be a real time-saver. This bad boy automatically mixes and warms formula in any quantity (between 1 and 10 ounces) and boasts three different temperature settings and a digital LCD display. It’s also designed to work with most any brand of formula and bottle. According to one parent we spoke to (and many five-star reviews), “having a Baby Brezza at my mom’s house was SO helpful and much easier than us prepping the formula or her needing to do it herself.”
8. Honest Organic Cotton Sleep & Play Set
- Why We Love It: soft, breathable fabric; convenient zipper closure
All the parents we asked were on the same page about this one: Keep backup clothing at the grandparents house. Here, an adorable and oh-so cozy, organic cotton sleep and play set that, as the name suggests, can be comfortably worn for all manner of activities and conveniently zips open and closed—you know, because there’s nothing worse than fussing with snaps on a squirming baby. (Pro tip: Shop for clothing in both the newborn and 3-month size.)
9. Pampers Swaddlers Newborn Diapers
- Why We Love It: comfy and true-to-size fit, wetness indicator, leak-proof design
This one is pretty self-explanatory—namely because you will need lots of diapers, but it’s nearly impossible for the parents to accurately predict just how many you’ll go through on any given visit. Pediatricians and happy customers agree that Pampers Swaddlers are the top-performing brand, as they fit true-to-size, have a handy wetness indicator and are impressively leak-proof under, well, most circumstances.
10. Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes
- Why We Love It: durable wipes that don’t run dry, safe for sensitive skin
We hate to play favorites, but Pampers takes the top spot again in the baby wipes department. These wipes are durable, wet enough to really get the job done and truly gentle on even the most sensitive skin. And much like with diapers, there’s really no telling how many wipes you will need, but probably a lot, so you best stock up on your own.
11. Desitin Maximum Strength Diaper Rash Cream
- Why We Love It: long-lasting, packaged in a squeeze tube for mess-free dispensing, provides effective protection
Here, another changing station staple that really can’t be skipped. Diaper rashes are, indeed, inevitable, but a quality cream goes a long way towards preventing them and nipping them in the bud when they do appear. Desitin is the gold standard and for good reason: It’s super effective, comes in a convenient squeeze tube and a little goes a long way.
12. Summer Comfort Elevated Infant Bathtub
- Why We Love It: locking tabs for extra security, head support, elevated design for (grand)parents’ comfort
If you’re keeping the baby overnight then an infant bathtub is essential, but the tub will likely come in handy during day visits too (i.e., for blowout diaper messes that can’t be tackled with a wad of wipes). Infant bathtubs make the task of bathing a baby safer and easier…but not necessarily more comfortable for the caretaker. Enter this ingenious tub which features an elevated design so you can get the job done without breaking your back, plus a locking mechanism to ensure a snug fit in the bathtub and plenty of head support for the bathing beauty.
13. HIPHOP PANDA Bamboo Baby Washcloths
- Why We Love It: hypoallergenic, soft and gentle material, absorbent
As previously mentioned, there will likely come a time when you need to bathe your grandchild. These impossibly soft and super absorbent bamboo washcloths are not only excellent for bathtime, but also do a bang-up job of gently wiping away spit-up messes. And they’re hypoallergenic, to boot.
14. Burt’s Bees Baby Shampoo and Wash
- Why We Love It: mild formula, great lather, suitable for sensitive skin, nice scent
Yet another bathtime essential, Burt’s Bees baby shampoo is an extremely mild, tear-free formula that’s suitable for very sensitive skin. Parents report that it also boasts an excellent lather and a subtle, but pleasant clean scent. What’s not to love?
15. Aden + Anais Essentials 5-Pack Easy Wrap Swaddles
- Why We Love It: fuss-free design with convenient velcro closure
Between the pack and play and the plush memory foam mattress, your grandchild will have a pretty sweet sleep setup. Alas, the investment won’t yield results unless you wrap that baby up like a burrito. Fortunately, that’s blessedly easy to do with the help of these neat swaddle wraps, which are perfectly-sized for the job and boast a convenient velcro closure to keep the bundle tight and secure. Three cheers for not having to do blanket origami just to get a baby to sleep! Psst: While we’re on the topic of sleep, forget putting the baby on her belly like you did with your kids—these days, the American Academy of Pediatrics says babies should only be placed on their backs for sleep whether they’re swaddled or not.
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